Initiation in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation Eras

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  • Slide 1
  • Initiation in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation Eras
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  • Council of Florence: Decree for the Armenians (1439) There are seven sacraments of the new Law, namely baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders and matrimony, which differ greatly from the sacraments of the old Law. The latter were not causes of grace, but only prefigured the grace to be given through the passion of Christ; whereas the former, ours, both contain grace and bestow it on those who worthily receive them. The first five of these are directed to the spiritual perfection of each person in himself, the last two to the regulation and increase of the whole church.
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  • All these sacraments are made up of three elements: namely, things as the matter, words as the form, and the person of the minister who confers the sacrament with the intention of doing what the church does. If any of these is lacking, the sacrament is not effected. Three of the sacraments, namely baptism, confirmation and orders, imprint indelibly on the soul a character, that is a kind of stamp which distinguishes it from the rest. Hence they are not repeated in the same person. The other four, however, do not imprint a character and can be repeated.
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  • Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the church. Since death came into the world through one person, unless we are born again of water and the spirit, we cannot, as Truth says, enter the kingdom of heaven. The matter of this sacrament is true and natural water, either hot or cold. The form is: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.
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  • But we do not deny that true baptism is conferred by the following words: May this servant of Christ be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit; or, This person is baptized by my hands in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. Since the holy Trinity is the principle cause from which baptism has its power and the minister is the instrumental cause who exteriorly bestows the sacrament, the sacrament is conferred if the action is performed by the minister with the invocation of the holy Trinity.
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  • The minister of this sacrament is a priest, who is empowered to baptize in virtue of his office. But in case of necessity not only a priest or a deacon, but even a lay man or a woman, even a pagan and a heretic, can baptize provided he or she uses the form of the church and intends to do what the church does. The effect of this sacrament is the remission of all original and actual guilt, also of all penalty that is owed for that guilt. Hence no satisfaction for past sins is to be imposed on the baptized, but those who die before they incur any guilt go straight to the kingdom of heaven and the vision of God.
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  • The second sacrament is confirmation. Its matter is chrism made from oil and balsam blessed by a bishop, the oil symbolizing the gleaming brightness of conscience and balsam symbolizing the odor of a good reputation. The form is: I sign you with the sign of the cross and I confirm you with the chrism of salvation in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit. The ordinary minister is a bishop. Whereas a simple priest can use other unctions, only a bishop ought to confer this one, because it is said only of the apostles, whose place is held by bishops, that they gave the holy Spirit by the imposition of hands, as this text from the Acts of the Apostles shows [Acts 8].
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  • In place of this imposition of hands confirmation is given in the church. We read that sometimes for a reasonable and really urgent cause, by dispensation of the apostolic see, a simple priest has conferred this sacrament of confirmation with chrism prepared by a bishop. The effect of this sacrament is that a Christian should boldly confess the name of Christ, since the holy Spirit is given in this sacrament for strengthening just as he was given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Therefore the candidate is enjoined on the forehead, which is the seat of shame, not to shrink from confessing the name of Christ and especially his cross, which is a stumbling block for Jews and a folly for gentiles, according to the Apostle, and for this reason he is signed with the sign of the cross.
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  • Martin Luther (1483-1546) on Christian Initiation The Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520)
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  • Baptism 3.4. Now, the first thing in baptism to be considered is the divine promise, which says: " He that believes and is baptised shall be saved." This promise must be set far above all the glitter of works, vows, religious orders, and whatever man has added to it. For on it all our salvation depends. We must consider this promise, exercise our faith in it and never doubt that we are saved when we are baptised. For unless this faith be present or be conferred in baptism, we gain nothing from baptism.
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  • 3.8. See, how rich therefore is a Christian, the one who is baptised! Even if he wants to, he cannot lose his salvation, however much he sin, unless he will not believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins so long as the faith in God's promise made in baptism returns or remains all other sins, I say, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because He cannot deny Himself. If only you confess Him and cling believing to Him that promises. But as for contrition, confession of sins, and satisfaction along with all those carefully thought out exercises of men if you turn your attention to them and neglect this truth of God, they will suddenly fail you and leave you more wretched than before. For whatever is done without faith in the truth of God, is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit.
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  • 3.12. From this we can clearly see the difference, in baptism, between man the minister and God the Doer. For man baptises and does not baptise. He baptises, for he performs the work, immersing the person to be baptised. He does not baptise, for in that act he officiates not by his own authority, but as God's representative. Hence, we ought to receive baptism at the hands of a man just as if Christ Himself, no, God Himself, were baptising us with His own hands. For it is not man's baptism, but Christ's and God's baptism, which we receive by the hand of a man, just as every other created thing that we make use of by the hand of another, is God's alone.
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  • Therefore beware of dividing baptism in such a way as to ascribe the outward part to man and the inward part to God. Ascribe both to God alone, and look upon the person administering it as the instrument in God's hands, by which the Lord sitting in heaven thrusts you under the water with His own hands, and speaking by the mouth of His minister promises you, on earth with a human voice, the forgiveness of your sins.
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  • 3.13. This the words themselves indicate, when the priest says: " I baptise you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen," and not: "I baptise you in my own name." It is as though he said: " What I do, I do not by my own authority, but in the name and as God's representative, so that you should regard it just as if our Lord Himself had done it in a visible manner. The Doer and the minister are different persons, but the work of both is the same work, or, rather, it is the work of the Doer alone, through my ministry."
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  • For I hold that "in the name of" refers to the person of the Doer, so that the name of the Lord is not only to be uttered and invoked while the work is being done, but the work itself is to be done not as one's own work, but in the name and as another's representative. In this sense, in Matthew 24, Christ says, "Many shall come in my name," and in Romans 1 it is said, "By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, in all nations, for His name."
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  • 3.15. The second part of baptism is the sign, or sacrament, which is that immersion into water from this also it derives its name. For the Greek baptiz means "I immerse," and baptisma means "immersion." For, as has been said, signs are added to the divine promises to represent that which the words signify, or, as they now say, that which the sacrament "effectively signifies." We shall see how much of truth there is in this.
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  • 3.16. The great majority have supposed that there is some hidden spiritual power in the word or in the water, which works the grace of God in the soul of the recipient. Others deny this and hold that there is no power in the sacraments, but that grace is given by God alone, Who according to His covenant aids the sacraments He has instituted. Yet all are agreed that the sacraments are effective signs of grace, and they reach this conclusion by this one argument: If the sacraments of the New Law merely "signified," it would not be apparent in what respect they surpassed the sacraments of the Old Law. Hence they have been driven to attribute such great power to the sacraments of the New Law that in their opinion they benefit even such men as are in mortal sins, and that they do not require faith or grace. It is sufficient not to oppose a "bar," that is, an